Bishoujo Senshi Sailormoon is the property of Takeuchi Naoko, Toei Animation, and Kodansha Comics.
Can't Take It Anymore
By Gita Toronjil-Lee
The midnight rain fell in sheets on the ominously black castle, the pounding echoing throughout the halls.
It stormed so often lately.
He sat back against the tall throne, closing his eyes with a quiet melancholia, and wondered almost indifferently what it would be like to cry.
I'm too strong, he thought, almost angrily, against his depression, for such weakness.
Thunder crashed against the night sky of the Dark Kingdom, and Lord Kunzite sighed.
It had been so hard. He himself had died, once, or at least had come very close to it, and what he remembered of it seemed far more --pleasant?-- than holding the person he loved in his arms as the light faded from those green eyes that so captured his heart.
Zoisite's last words, then: "Oshitaishite orimashita, Kun-zai-to -sama,"
I loved you. I've grown attached to you, Kunzite-sama. My last words will be choking out your name, because I love you so much.
Kunzite knew what his lover was trying to say. And it was funny… it wasn't after Zoisite was dead that Kunzite realized that he hadn't responded likewise, though he had so understood. How true to his own character. How he hated himself for it.
But business before pleasure, after all, and for this he continued to work for Zoisite's murderer.
And it wasn't even a week later when Queen Beryl called Kunzite in to discuss a matter "of some special interest to you, I'm sure."
Beryl's hands stroked her ever-present crystal ball on the staff in front of her as she regarded her High King. He looked as immaculate as ever, standing tall and proud as ever he had. If not for the haunted look in his blue-gray eyes, he would have seemed invincible and perfectly content with his life.
"Kunzite, I am going to concede something to you."
She didn't sound apologetic for anything. Of course she wouldn't . Queens do not lower themselves for their servants.
Despite this, Kunzite was disturbed. He was alone in her grand hall; neither the Dark Prince nor the Youma Court were present.
He could not keep the mistrust entirely out of his voice. "My Queen?"
She smiled, baring her maliciously pointed fangs. "I should not have killed Zoisite."
Shock registered momentarily on the man's face as he jerked slightly, the small motion causing the unnatural light of the chambers to refract off his anguished eyes. Perhaps because of this or perhaps because his blood had simultaneously boiled and run cold, his swarthy face suddenly matched the white of his hair.
Or maybe this never happened; it was so fast it could have been imagined. In the time it takes to blink, the king went from a devastated wraith to the faultless icy warrior he always was.
His angry mind urged him to spit out, I know. But it's a little too late, isn't it?
"Is there a reason you're telling me this?" He settled on a reply that was not rude, not accusatory, but hopefully with an indifferent curiosity.
You're teasing me, aren't you?
Beryl's inscrutable red gaze raked over her tall warrior. "I was… displeased… with his disobedience, but it didn't really matter; I still ended up with Endymion exactly as I wanted him. And I have been thinking -- he did, at one point, have all the nijizuishou as per his orders. I believe they were in your possession when they were lost. So he would be the only one of my Shitennou -- that includes yourself, of course -- to actually succeed at something."
Kunzite looked at the pseudo-granite ground. So, a punishment. Death didn't scare him. He easily recognized that his term of service in regards to the Earth Realm had probably been the least successful out of the four: he had not attained the ginzuishou as were his orders. Jadeite and Nephrite had merely to collect energy, and Zoisite had had his nijizuishou. His task was hardest, yes, and he also had to put up with Endymion's "assistance", but he knew well and good that that meant nothing to his queen. She had killed (iced?) Jadeite, after all, with his very valid protests -- that though he had not killed the senshi, he had discovered their true identities -- still on his lips.
"I am prepared to --"
His jaw snapped shut with an audible click. "Queen Beryl-sama --"
"I am considering rescinding my punishment on your wayward pupil."
She heard a quiet, anti-climactic exhalation pass from her highest king's lips, and reveled in the fact that Kunzite was near-breathless as he spoke. "You- you can do that?"
"With Metallia-sama behind me I can do nearly anything," snapped the monarch, "don't forget that." Then she appeared to soften. "I am asking you for your opinion on the matter."
He was speechless. What else would he say but yes, yes, do it!
"But before you say anything, I should inform you of my terms."
There's always a catch, and the Dark Kingdom does not make exceptions to this.
"I am firstly going to resurrect him without memory of his death -- he will not remember being dead, nor that it was I who killed him. I will most likely also rid him of the memory of killing Nephrite, to free him of that nasty sense of arrogant pride and power that committing that particular murder brought about. I am secondly going to give him the same mission as yours -- seeking the ginzuishou. I am well aware of how nearly successful you were when the two of you worked together. You make a good team."
Her wicked eyes gleamed with good humor, and she continued, noting the blind hope beginning to light his face. "Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly to you: though I am recommending that you and he work cooperatively on your task, I am going to erase all of his memories of you. He will know you as his superior king -- not as his sensei and not as anything more. And you are not to remind him of your past, nor are you to try and pick up where you left off. Do I make myself clear?"
The hope vanished, turning into look of anguish. Of course, of course she had known, probably all along had she known, and her mean-spirited oblique reference to what they had been was mind-numbingly cruel. And unfair. Their relationship had never affected their abilities, nor their loyalty to the cause. Kunzite had always made sure of this.
Could I have him and stand, at the same time, not having him?
But he'd still be near; I could hear his voice once more, see his eyes gleam at me again like they used to, watch his body move as I have always loved… though at a distance…
"So I would remember him, but he would not remember me?"
"I think you are strong and devoted enough to resist temptation, Kunzite."
He closed his argent eyes briefly, and nodded slowly. Looking back up at his sovereign, he said, "Yes, Queen Beryl-sama, I agree with your decision to revive Zoisite."
Whatever it takes, as long as you're there.
He didn't know how she did it, only that it was done when he heard a tentative voice echoing through the lower chambers of his residence.
But I can't kiss him hello… can't tell him I missed him…
"Ah, Zoisite, you're here," he said, the epitome of the aloof, icy High King. Surely if the Dark Kingdom had some form of award for acting, he would take home a trophy for Best Performance in Pretending Not To Know A Lover.
Kunzite descended the grand black staircase of his home, pausing for barely a moment. Yes, oh yes, there he is…
And indeed, there he was, innocent and lovely, bedecked in the same type of green-trimmed gray uniform that hung in the opposite side of Kunzite's closet, copper hair pulled back with the same type of blue-green ribbon as those that were scattered about Kunzite's dresser, the one they had once shared.
Zoisite blushed slightly and held out a slim, elegant hand. "It's an honor to work with you, Kunzite-sama. I mean, I know I've met you before, though you probably don't remember me, but I never thought I'd actually be privileged enough to be partnered with you."
"You're one of the Shitennou, too," Kunzite said, still acting with star-quality, and reached out his own gloved hand, gracefully taking Zoisite's slender fingers and holding them as long past the point of mere politeness as he felt he could get away with. "Don't underestimate yourself."
And then there it was -- that shy smile of the younger man's that still so captivated him. Death, resurrection, and brainwashing had failed to take it away. It was the smile that had always belonged only to Kunzite. And Zoisite was offering it again.
"Thank you, Kunzite-sama. Now how do you propose we get that ginzuishou?"
"Why does he seem so familiar?" Zoisite whispered to no one in particular. This was because no one was around in the small building that he had lived in. No one was ever around. The house, built of greenish wood and black stone, was an exceptionally lonely dwelling, even for the Dark Kingdom, and not even its owner considered it a real home, for reasons that he just couldn’t fathom.
He walked up and down a hallway, his heels clicking against the rocky ground. Working with Kunzite-sama, most powerful of the Shitennou, was to him an unprecedented honor, despite the fact that rank-wise he was the obvious choice. And he had been expecting to be so nervous, too, actually talking to the great man. But Kunzite had been exceptionally gracious to him -- not the "Ice King" he had been expecting -- and now he was absolutely eager to start his task.
However, something about his superior irked something in the back of his mind. Not that that mattered. He had to work with him in the morning, and he wanted to do his best, so he knew that pacing did him nothing. He went to bed.
He opened his eyes slowly and realized that his vision revealed only a portion of a tanned, broad chest. He had buried his face into another man's shoulder, which had pillowed him in his sleep. A warm, much larger body extended down the length of his own, and with a delicious excitement, he knew that they both were bare. The real pillow that he wasn't using had trapped his right arm, and his left wrapped firmly around the other's torso.
What really thrilled him, though, was his partner, who had tangled the fingers of one hand in Zoisite's tousled hair and was gently stroking his back with the other. This other body was cradling him far more comfortably than the enormous bed and the sheets that enveloped them both.
A soft, rumbling voice was whispering in his ear, telling him how beautiful he was and how good they were together.
"Mmmm…" he groaned, with a weary smile, "do you really mean that?"
A startle ran through the body holding him. "I didn’t know you were awake."
"Just barely. Why do you so rarely tell me such nice things when I'm not sleeping?"
"I don’t know -- but I must mean it."
"Because at a time like this it is most assuredly not to get into your pants."
He chuckled, trying unsuccessfully to pull away from the tight embrace. "I guess not; I'm not wearing any."
The arms around him loosened, now, just a bit, but the other's legs stretched to entangle with his own. A smiling voice announced the discovery: "So you're not."
Placing pale hands against the bronzed chest, he pushed himself back to look his lover in the face. Kunzite was affectionately grinning at him, the effects of sleep nonexistent on his features. Zoisite reached his left hand up to run his fingers through the feathery white bangs, and sighed. "When do we have to get to work?"
With a mischievous gleam in his remarkable azure eyes, the High King leaned closer, his lips teasingly near the other's, and said, "Not yet."
Zoisite jerked awake, painfully aware of the vivid dream he had been having. So, so disappointingly real…
"I shouldn’t have been thinking of him so much before I slept," he chastised himself. Kunzite-sama was drop-dead gorgeous; he had noticed that the first time he had laid eyes on him. It was impossible to miss.
"Add the meeting of one handsome man who is congenial and weirdly familiar to a very lonely boy," he continued, "and you get dreams like that, don’t you, Zoisite?"
Grumbling angrily, he closed his eyes tightly and willed himself not to think of it, but the thoughts kept coming. Though not in denial about his preferences, he knew that inappropriate thoughts about his superior would adversely affect their mission, and besides, a homosexual relationship surely wouldn’t interest oh-so-masculine Kunzite, anyway. He really didn’t want to embarrass either of them.
He took a deep breath and exhaled, settling back into his small bed and mostly flat pillow. "Don’t dream anymore," he ordered, (odd, that he'd dream of waking up with him rather than actually sleeping with him). "And don’t even think of that dream ever again. Think of other things. Concentrate on getting the ginzuishou. Yes. We will certainly get it, he and I. I know it."
If he dreamed after that, he didn't remember anything except perhaps fleeting visions of the shimmering elusive silver gem.
Despite his enthusiasm, though, their first few plans did not work; in fact, it was perhaps Zoisite's influence that harmed the attempts, for how could Kunzite be expected to come up with even a halfway decent scheme when his mind- among other things- was too concerned with the proximity and with the unattainability of his companion?
"I'm a king, not a goddamned actor," he muttered darkly to himself after one such failed episode. "I don't know how much more of this I can take."
He picked up the picture that remained ever-present on his mantle -- he would never invite Zoisite into the bedroom that was once theirs, after all; the clueless young king would recognize his belongings and the stamp of his personality on the room in an instant, and that would not please their benevolent queen. It had been so wonderful, once, so worry-free and idyllic. He just hadn't realized it at the time. For this Kunzite couldn't bring himself to erase the signs of his so-missed lover from his bedchambers. Gazing at the image, he stroked a finger over the pair of faces lovingly and shut his eyes.
When he went downstairs again, Zoisite was there, lounging back on Kunzite's hard-appearing but remarkably not-uncomfortable sofa -- a rarity in the Kingdom, that, and available only because of the first king's lofty rank.
We spent the night together on that couch, one time, that night when you convinced me to come with you to raid Nephrite's wine cellar while he was on a mission exploring the Silver Millenium ruins on Mars. We both were so drunk afterward that we could barely teleport home and end up in the right dwelling, which we did, but we couldn't manage the staircase upstairs. Don't you remember?
"Kunzite-sama, I think we need to talk."
An almost imperceptible shake of the head was all the taller man could manage to bring his thoughts back to the present. "What about?"
Zoisite sighed, a sound that echoed sadly in Kunzite's ears. "I find it frustrating that we haven't managed to succeed in our mission. I don't deal well with failure, and I'm sure you don't either."
"No, I don't. But what can we do but keep trying?"
"And hoping that the queen will accept our petty excuses and apologies, right?"
"That is the way the Kingdom has always worked." And you have always hated it. Oh, how the more things change…
The young man patted the seat beside him, sending up a pleading look at his senior. "Please, Kunzite-sama, sit down. We need a new plan of action."
"Do you realize what time it is?" It was quite late, even for the terms of the denizens of the Dark Kingdom. And Kunzite didn't want to have to be so damned near to this temptation, especially considering the time, the place, and his current state of mind.
But despite his better judgement, he sat.
"I know how late it is," the delicately epicene warrior apologized, "but I can't sleep if I'm upset. I need something to… oh, I don't know, to put my faith in, I suppose, even if only temporarily. And I'm afraid that if we keep failing, the queen will do to us -- or at least to me -- what she did to Jadeite and Nephrite. Tenure as a king has been remarkably short-lived recently."
Kunzite hoped that Zoisite would not notice the way he jerked a little at those words. Well, they did offer some insight in what exactly Beryl had implanted in him, even if the slight mixing of truths was unsettling.
"And that bastard Endymion," he continued, "has been a definite thorn in our hides. He keeps saving the Sailorsenshi from us. Whose side does he think he's on? And those ridiculous girls are so goddamned annoying, what with all their speeches and posing. How in hell do they manage to elude our plots?"
In spite of himself, Kunzite chuckled. Zoisite had always had the ability to eloquently express exactly what he himself was thinking. "I wish I knew. If we did, we'd have gotten the ginzuishou, freed Metallia-sama, taken over this realm, and finally accomplished everything that we've been working for." And when that happens, maybe we can be together again.
He dropped his remarkable green eyes, embarrassed and blushing. "Do you have a… a girlfriend?"
Oh gods, where did this come from? "Why do you ask?"
Zoisite bit his lower lip. "I was… just… well, if you have someone waiting, I won't keep you. I don't want to be rude."
Kunzite smiled, a swift, bitter smile. "No. I don't have anyone. Except you, of course." Truth disguised as a jest, but he couldn't help it. "Don't worry… there's no one waiting for me. You don't have to leave."
"I have a hard time believing that a powerful, handsome man like you would not have a beautiful woman as his own." Zoisite seemed almost angry at the thought, his words pungent with an almost obvious (though he himself most likely did not choose to realize it as such) jealousy.
Considering his words carefully, he said in an offhanded manner, "Maybe I don’t have an interest in any beautiful woman." And then cursed himself inwardly.
A spontaneous hope rose in his once-lover's emerald eyes as he remembered his embarrassing dream and what it may have been trying to tell him. Finally giving some thought to the constant surreptitious way Kunzite acted around him, he asked, in a disbelieving but hopeful voice, "You aren't interested in women?"
Recognizing the look: "No, Zoisite, don’t think that. Please. I can't…"
But Zoisite could, and he reached out an ungloved hand, brushing it impetuously over Kunzite's tanned features. Exactly as he had always done. Kunzite reflexively caught it, held it, and kissed the palm hungrily. Exactly as he had always done. No… Stop… I mustn't…
With a sudden burst of willpower, the white-haired king pushed Zoisite's hand away from his face, releasing his grip. But the verdant eyes were glowing with a wondering intoxication, and their owner whispered, "You do want me."
"No, Zoisite, I… oh, damn…"
"It's okay, Kunzite-sama, I won't tell."
"I can't. Believe me. It's not that I don’t… don’t want to, because I do," --goddammit what am I telling him?-- "but Beryl doesn’t want… doesn’t want her officers involved."
She doesn't want us involved. Not again. And I'm afraid what she might do to us if…
Leaning forward, towards him, the younger man breathed, "Beryl doesn’t have to know."
He couldn’t help it, not with Zoisite so close, so tantalizingly desirable, so remembered and so wanted. He kissed him.
Their lips met and molded together. Death hadn't affected Zoisite's technique, and the breathtaking familiarity of it drove Kunzite's self-control temporarily away. Zoisite made a soft noise and opened his mouth, and Kunzite mimicked the gesture, their tongues entwining desperately.
Without any apparent consideration, the smaller leaned back against the arm of the sofa, pulling the other down with him as he wrapped his legs and arms around him. When they parted for breath, Zoisite murmured Kunzite's name softly, still complete with honorific, and pressed as close to the larger body as he could get, making the other fully aware of his arousal.
Kunzite motioned their bodies lengthwise across the piece of furniture, lying heavily over him, reveling in the sweet glory of…
Of pained emerald eyes looking sideways up at him from a smoking, wounded body on the cold stone floor. Of furious orange eyes flashing at him even as he tried to take some of the blame on himself. Of an angry, screeching female voice speaking over a hopeless male scream, and of the disbelieving gasp that had come from his own mouth.
"No!" he said aloud, pushing himself up, disentangling his protégé's body from his own.
The hurt in his lover's -- yes, still his lover's; it was agonizingly apparent that the mutual attraction remained -- was terrible to look at, and Kunzite would have closed his eyes and come back to Zoisite if not for the fact that this look was nothing when compared to the tearful, dying gaze that had once held his own.
But these eyes, the ones that did not remember their own death, were tearful as well.
"What is it, Kunzite-sama? Were you lying -- you do have a lover? Or is it that I'm not attractive enough for you?"
Kunzite made some feeble sound of protest and shook his head, no, that wasn't it.
"Then what? I know you want me -- I can feel it, and I want you, too. Do you want me to beg? I will."
"Zoisite, don't cry." He didn’t need this. Hadn't expected this of this night, or to have to deal with it at all.
Ignoring his orders, twin tears streaked down pale-skinned cheeks. The enchanting blurry green eyes raised up to meet his. "Please, Kunzite-sama, tell me why. Please give me that much."
Kunzite stood up slowly, painfully, remorsefully. "You… we…" Quite truthfully, he didn't know what to say. "It is death to disobey Beryl's orders," he said finally, "this I know too well. Don't ask why. It would also be against the queen's orders for me to tell you anything that you can understand, and for our own safety I will not. Just take my word for it, Zoisite, please, that you and I can not be together." Anymore, he very nearly added, but caught himself in time.
The look of bitter resignation on Zoisite that replaced the crestfallen countenance was not one that Kunzite had never seen before. "Fine, then, Kunzite-sama." One last hot, angry tear dripped down his face and off his chin, and he stood up as well, straightening his spine and squaring his shoulders.
"I'm sorry. I'm really not doing this because I want to. You should go back to your quarters and sleep; we'll work on another plan for the ginzuishou tomorrow."
"Well," the shorter of the two sighed, "if you say so." He faced the white-haired king and stood on tiptoe to kiss him briefly and pleadingly on the mouth. This time Kunzite restrained himself from doing anything foolish and met the embrace with a stoic rigidity, but that didn’t stop Zoisite from telling him, "but don’t… don't hesitate to change your mind. Anytime."
He left in a moment of inverted black antimatter; no sakura for him this time.
As did Kunzite, who couldn't bear to be in his own home not one second more. Not when it was their own home.
Instead he walked slowly alone down the shores of a great darkwater lake, his boots leaving wet sandy imprints in the loose gravelly ground. Every so often he would bend over, pick up a large pebble, and throw it into the depths, where it would vanish with barely a visible ripple.
"Lord Kunzite?" A female voice. One he knew, though he didn't particularly consider it the voice of a friend. He didn't have friends, after all. But she wasn’t an enemy. Actually, she was his.
The youma ninja rose up from behind him. "My lord, what are you doing here?"
He cast a disdaining look over his shoulder. "Never you mind. This is part of my domain; why do I need a reason to go here?"
From what could be seen beneath her mask, she looked taken aback. As she perhaps had reason to; Kunzite was not usually so nasty to her, one of his favorite subjects. "My lord, may I have permission to ask you a question?"
For an instant, her master paused, showed a brief period of consideration, and nodded. Is there any way she could ask me anything that could make me feel worse?
"Are you upset, Kunzite-sama?" The youma's question sounded strangely concerned. "I've never seen you act so lost…"
Then she covered her face with a gloved hand and shrank back. Accusing the highest ranking male in the Dark Kingdom of being emotionally disturbed -- of having emotions at all -- was probably not the wisest thing that a mere, expendable youma could do.
However, Kunzite just offered a weary look and a cynical half-smile. "That obvious? Don't worry about me, Oniwabandana."
Her guarded eyes flashed a brief, noticeable moment of uncertainty, which her master recognized.
"Is there something else?"
Looking away momentarily, then boldly into the tall man's eyes, she said, "I was just wondering if it has anything to do with Lord Zoisite."
The Ice King may have been exhausted, but not so much that he couldn’t stifle his reaction to the point of seeming-indifference as was his typical manner. "Why would you think that?"
Shaking her head, she replied, "I'm sorry -- the rumor around the kingdom is that you and he were… were having an affair, and then when you had to work with him after he was resurrected, I just thought…"
Remarkably perceptive for a youma. Damn rumors.
"And if it is about Lord Zoisite," he allowed, "what would it matter? What would you say to help?"
"I would say," she said slowly, carefully, "that I should mind my own business. However, I would also say that in this Kingdom there are very few things of any value; that's probably why we lust after the Earthen Realm with such a passion, and I would leave anything that I was thinking at that.
"And I would leave the decisions of my leaders to my leaders."
She bowed, seeking leave, and after she received it by a curt nod of his head, she sank into the ground where she had came from. Kunzite did not say another word to her.
Huddled and confused, the slight body trembled at the sound of the king's footsteps in the castle. Having a remarkably cat-like sense of night vision, the castle's owner caught the tiny movement and heard very light breathing.
It was unlike Zoisite to be so obvious in his spying, but then, rarely would he ever try any reconnaissance in the mood he had been in.
His lover pretended at first not to notice him, partially out of respect for the young man's agitated state, partially due to Kunzite feeling that he couldn’t face another confrontation on this night, and partially because of his curiosity of what exactly the impetuous blonde was up to.
Then he noticed that the picture on his shelf was missing. And there were prints of slender fingers in the dust.
Quite truly, he was speechless.
"Zoisite?" he called, his deep voice echoing throughout the halls. "Are you there?"
A distant-sounding, choked off sob answered. "Y- yes."
"Come here, please."
The shadows in the corner of his -- their -- room elongated into the form of a human, and Zoisite came out, the sparse light highlighting the dark tearstreaks on his pretty face. In one bare hand he clutched a golden frame.
Sighing, the elder king said nothing, but his sadness echoed through his silvery eyes. He reached out a hand, and the younger nervously placed what he had been holding in it. Kunzite placed it back on the ledge.
Finally, he asked. "Do you know… do you want me to explain…?"
The green eyes squeezed shut, twin tears escaping and falling to the floor. When he spoke, the tenor of his voice was not cracked or trembling, but it was very, very soft.
"Is this me?"
Kunzite affirmed this, and then hesitated on what he should say next, but Zoisite shook his head and continued.
The emerald eyes opened, and, in their shimmering, looked so much like jewels that unaware geologists could have bought them for a small fortune apiece.
"Oshitaishite orimashita, Kunzaito-sama," he said, and Kunzite's knees buckled.
When he came to his senses and managed to overcome his shock just a bit, he looked to the boy with a disbelieving, questioning expression.
Answering the unspoken, Zoisite replied, "I don’t quite know why I said that, only that I… I said it to you once. But I don’t remember much else. And you do, obviously. Will you tell me? Please?"
Clenching his jaw to retain his composure, the white-haired king exhaled through his teeth in frustration and stared at the ground. Then he looked up, his expression weary.
"We were… something… once, you and I. The most notorious pair in the Dark Kingdom; the invincible fire-and-ice team of Lords Zoisite and Kunzite. It had never been in Beryl's plan to have any of her Shitennou form a partnership like we did, but she did put you under my tutelage, and we found that we were very… alike, I suppose. No, no, I take that back. We were not alike -- closer to complete opposites -- but we were compatible.
"And," he said, after taking a deep breath, "we were lovers. Though I'm sure you’ve already figured that out."
Just words. There was no sudden flash of memory, nor miraculous revelation. Zoisite searched Kunzite's face for signs of truth, and found them present, from what he could read of the tall man, but his mind yielded to him no truth of its own to back up the tale.
"I don’t remember…"
"Those words… you whispered them only once. We had never talked about our relationship and what it meant to either of us. We pretended to the world, to each other, and to ourselves -- or at least I did -- that we were nothing more than partners in business and in the bedroom. We never spoke of devotion, or of forever, or of… of…"
He lacked the ability to speak what burned in his mind. The concept (even the word itself) of love was too alien, too unnatural, too obscene for his lips to utter aloud. But yet it still hung over both their heads, and even Zoisite in his clueless state knew it was there.
Rather than lowering himself to stuttering out what the dark side of his mind refused to voice, he continued. "The only time either of us -- it was you -- said anything, you were dying."
Zoisite's face did not change in expression, save the fact that it momentarily seemed to have a resigned understanding somewhere beneath his features. And he really couldn’t think of anything to say to that. "Oh."
"You had attacked Endymion, in Tuxedo Kamen form, against Beryl's orders, and for that she killed you. She blasted you and told me to… to take you away, and you died in my arms. Your last request was to die pretty, and you did, in a field of flowers, telling me that you loved me." His throat tightened. "Then Beryl told me a week later that she was going to revive you, because you were such a good soldier, but that she'd take away your memories of several things that she didn’t want in your head, including your knowledge of me. And I shouldn’t have told you this."
There was nothing else to say.
Wordlessly, Zoisite reached out to Kunzite and wrapped his arms around him, laying his head on his shoulder. Kunzite hugged him back, out of desperation and guilt rather than outright lust.
After a moment, he whispered in the other's ear, "But you still don’t remember, do you?"
A tearful, regretful nod.
Then he looked up. "I'm so sorry for your loss, Kunzite-sama."
This startled the white-haired king. "My… loss?"
"Yes." A slender hand stretched up to caress his face. "I'm not the lover you once had; for me our past may never have existed, save some basic memories or the occasional feeling of déjà vu. I look at you and desire you out of physical attraction -- or maybe even a little more than that -- but what I feel I know doesn’t even remotely compare to what you must. I'm sure you look at me and see what you have lost and what you cannot have again. And I'm sorry that I can't do anything to help you. I would in an instant if I could, because, knowing you now, it must have been wonderful to have had the opportunity to grow attached to you."
The arms around him tightened. "You are so much the Zoisite that I loved; it is such a shame that you don’t realize it."
Zoisite looked away. He wanted so badly to take this man's pain away, to suddenly become the person that Kunzite wanted him to be, to say Oh, yes, Kunzite-sama, I remember everything now, and we can go back to the way things were. But even if he'd had the memories that Kunzite claimed happened (and he believed him, though that didn’t do him any good), he could not have done anything, because of the bitch-queen's orders.
He hated Beryl; he had for as long as he could remember, though he never knew the reason why. I suppose she didn’t care enough to erase that from my memory. I doubt I had the ability to hide it, so she definitely was aware of my hatred, he thought bitterly. Why didn’t she take that away, like she took Kunzite away? I can have my hatred, but I can't have my love?
He realized belatedly that he had spoken that last aloud, because he heard a deep voice murmuring, "Love is not the way of the Kingdom. Hatred is."
Spurred suddenly by a frivolous notion and a reawakening of a desire to test authority, Zoisite looked up and said, "Is that a rule? Or could it be broken?"
"It… no, Zoisite, Beryl's orders are…" Kunzite let Zoisite go and backed several steps away, recognizing the rebellious streak in the young man trying to make itself known. "Beryl's orders must be kept. They must be, for our own safety."
Before replying, the small king reached behind his back and unclasped his belt, letting the black leather fall to the floor, then he unbuttoned his jacket slowly. "I want to remember, Kunzite-sama."
Kunzite whimpered; he couldn’t stop himself from that slight reaction. He had withstood seduction once this night, and he was beginning to question how much influence his willpower could hold.
Zoisite's hand went up to his head and pulled the ribbon out from his hair, letting it fall free to his shoulders.
Frowning severely to keep himself from doing anything else, Kunzite took another step back. "Zoisite…"
The boy lowered his eyes, froze a moment in thought, then shyly and regretfully smiled at up at him. "I'm sorry. I don’t want to hurt you any further. I just thought that… oh, never mind."
He was always so damned beautiful.
"Oh, what the hell," Kunzite said, almost angrily, and reached out to him, pulling him close and running the fingers of his left hand through the thick golden waves of hair, reaching his right down to gently rub against Zoisite's thigh. He softly kissed the younger man's smooth forehead, then traced a path down the right side of his face, over his temple, to the tip of his nose, to his lips.
"Mmmph…" A small noise came from Zoisite as Kunzite swept him off his feet and into his arms. He spoke as soon as the kiss was broken, when Kunzite decided to move lower to his neck and remove the already unbuttoned jacket. "Kunzite-sama, please don’t tease me like this."
"We can do better this time," the tall man promised, the breath on Zoisite’s throat causing shivers. "We can keep it a secret. And when we get the ginzuishou, Beryl won’t have any complaints about anything we do."
Pushing all the thoughts and misgivings that he had had before out of his head, Kunzite chose to believe his own words as he led Zoisite over to the bed, as he took off their clothes, as they loved each other.
No reply. He was lost in a deep sleep, snoring softly. Zoisite couldn’t hold back a chuckle -- Kunzite always slept so soundly after a satisfying night.
Wait… he always?
"I remember," he whispered to his lover, who continued to sleep on the pillow beside him, the arms around him almost painfully tight. "Kunzite-sama, wake up!"
The elder king mumbled what could have been Zoisite's name and buried his face in the slender man's neck, moving so that their bodies were snuggling into each other tightly.
Zoisite giggled and shook the other man on the shoulder. Eventually, sleepy silver eyes groggily opened to greet him.
They registered shock for a moment, then Kunzite smiled. "Oh. Good morning."
"Want to know something?" Zoisite asked, his fingers teasing in Kunzite's long white hair. Kunzite stretched his body out slightly and languidly, one of his hands gently massaging the small of Zoisite's back, but he didn't answer immediately.
Kunzite yawned. "Yes, Zoisite?"
"I have my memories back."
"That's ni- you what? Really?" The tall man sat straight up, bringing parts of his lover with him. "Oh, Zoisite…"
With a broad grin, the younger king said in a giddy voice, "I don't know how, but suddenly I remember my time with you, my quest for the nijizuishou, the way I… the way I died, hell, even our campaign way back when on the Silver Millenium. I mean, there are gaps here and there, but I know… so much more…"
Tanned features contorting into something that almost looked like suppressed tears, Kunzite squeezed Zoisite tightly in his arms. "Then I suppose I can finally tell you now that I love you, and I've always loved you."
No matter their glee, spending a day in bed together simply being in love was out of the question. The slight matter of the ginzuishou remained at hand, after all, and they could not ignore that.
That night, though, when they were both sound asleep again in the room that was once again theirs, Zoisite heard a voice echoing in his mind.
<<Zoisite! Throne room immediately!>>
He wearily and carefully disentangled himself from Kunzite's strong arms and kissed him lightly, taking care not to wake him.
After he dressed, he teleported to the throne room to find Beryl sitting in front of her crystal ball. Other than the sovereign, the room was empty.
"My Queen?" he asked cautiously and respectfully, bowing low. Why would she summon me at this hour?
She smiled evilly. "Zoisite. I think you may know why you're here."
He shook his head, clueless. Then it came to him. Oh my… Kunzite… how could she possibly know?
Verifying his worries, she said, "Did Lord Kunzite not inform you that internal relations between my officers is prohibited?"
Knowing better than to deny, he instead began, "Queen Beryl-sama, we had thought that…"
"No!" she screeched. "I do not want you to share a bed with Kunzite. I do not even want you to spend any more time with him as is absolutely necessary. I am going to tell you now, Zoisite. I gave him his orders, and he disobeyed them, so now I am putting things on your shoulders. If you even so much as kiss him once more, or he you, I will not kill you this time, but him."
"He is your finest warrior!" he protested. "You can't do that!"
"I can do anything I want, and do not forget that. I have no need for either of you; Endymion has proven himself to be a superior servant for me. I will know, Zoisite, if you ignore my orders. I knew before; I implanted something in you that tells me everything, and it is bound directly to your life force. So I advise you to think about the safety of your lover over your unnecessary desires. Kunzite did not, and I am going to give you another chance."
"No…" he whispered. Not now, not when everything in the world is absolutely perfect. "Queen Beryl-sama, you don't understand, we…"
The red-haired queen leaned forward in her ominous stone seat. "Tell me no to my face? No one can tell me no to my face! If that is how you want to be, I will deny you your added opportunity!"
That wasn't want he meant; his eyes widened in complete fear and his jaw slackened. He took two inadvertent steps backward. "No, no, I didn't mean that! I was only-"
"Silence!" she thundered. "Fool that you are, I do not want you around! I am going to give you a choice. Go, go back to your precious Kunzite-sama, and kill him, or I will kill you. I can make either happen, and I want one of you gone! I have put up with your insubordination for long enough!"
Then she stopped, and took a deep breath. "Wait. Zoisite. I forget; you don't remember very much."
He did, in actuality, but he was not foolish enough to tell her so.
"Your stupidity is not entirely your fault. I will forgive you this time, but be more careful of what you choose to say in the future," she purred. "And I still want you to stay away from Kunzite. Consider your assignment of working with him terminated, and if you ever even see him again, I will destroy you both."
Despite her warning, Zoisite knew in his heart that he could not leave the only person he'd ever loved. He materialized back in their bedroom where Kunzite was still fast asleep.
He chewed on his thumbnail as he stared at Kunzite, deep in thought, and a tear fell from his eye.
Then he sat down at Kunzite's desk across the room, picked up a pen, and began to write.
Kunzite found the note the next morning on the floor in a puddle of water with sakura petals floating in it.
Beryl contacted me during the night, and informed me that she forbids to ever see each other again. She would know, you see, she knew that we were together again, and she was angry enough to kill us both. The only thing that prevented this was that she thought I still lacked my memories and so did not truly know what I was doing. But she said that if I were to see you again, she would make good on her threat.
I love you too much to hurt you, but I also love you too much to live without you. You survived without me before, when she killed me the first time, but I know that I could never survive if you were not in my life. You can. You have always been so much stronger than I.
And so I leave you, my lord, my love, my only, with the memories of the short, wonderful two days we just had together, and of all the time we had before, when we were, as you put it, 'the most notorious pair in the Dark Kingdom', during the many years we had when we were in love but didn't admit it.
You won't find my body; I know what happens to one of us when we die. Jadeite's crystal stands empty, Nephrite faded away from the arms of his mortal girl. I vaguely recall drifting away when you held me so close in the midst of all the beauty you created for me. You gave me all the beauty and pleasure I ever had in my life, and for that I thank you. But I am going to take a pair of ice crystals, and I am going to slit my wrists with them. You won't see me again, except in your memories, your dreams, and that lovely picture of us that I am staring at right now. You and I both knew that it couldn't last, even then, when we were so happy. And I won't make you witness my death again.
I'm glad we had the time we did, Kunzite-sama, and I'm glad that I was able to remember, but I could not bear having the memories and not having you.
I love you more than anything in all the worlds.
The midnight rain fell in sheets on the ominously black castle, the pounding echoing throughout the halls.
It stormed so often lately.
He sat back against the tall throne, closing his eyes with a quiet melancholia, and wondered almost indifferently what it would be like to cry.
I'm too strong, he thought, almost angrily, against his depression, for such weakness.
Thunder crashed against the night sky of the Dark Kingdom, and Lord Kunzite sighed.
In his left hand he read the much-read letter. At first he had been in complete shock; he had not left the room for days, but had laid in their bed, staring into the pillow with burning eyes that refused even then to spill over. Then he had moved to a grisly acceptance, but he in his overwhelming grief still refused to leave his home for the uncaring outside world.
In his right hand he held something very small that glittered with its own light.
The maboroshi no ginzuishou.
Whether it was the fact that they were empowered by their recovered love or sheer coincidence, the next plot concocted and enacted had been successful. They had been going to give it to Queen Beryl-sama the next day, figuring that with it in their possession it was safe, and by the time they had it, it was far too late to disturb their temperamental queen, and besides, they'd rather take some time to celebrate together.
Foolish. A mistake that led to so much regret.
Kunzite stared at the crystal a moment, then closed his eyes. A small black gap in reality formed beneath his hand, and he dropped the gem into the hole.
When he felt something wet drip down his cheek, he made no move to dry it. Funny… crying really didn't feel like what he thought it would. His hurt was so great that his body's response to it made no difference to the pain in his heart.
The senshi would be sure to find their missing belonging to where his warp to the earth realm transported it. He sure as hell wouldn't give it to Beryl.
He swallowed hard, trying to rid himself of the lump that seemed to have taken up permanent residence in his throat.
A horrible sound rang through his head. <<Kunzite, forget about your little toy. You don't need him -- find a youma or something to satisfy your needs; they require much less upkeep. And remember, you're a member of the Dark Kingdom. You don't have a heart.>>
He laughed a very sad, very small laugh. "Of course I don't, Queen Beryl-sama."
Reading the letter over one last time, he gazed momentarily across the room in the direction of Zoisite's image.
Well, he mused, if I don't have a heart, then this won't do anything. And Zoisite, wherever you are, please show me the way to be with you…
Taking a sword, a holdover from the time of the Silver Millenium, he looked at the reflection of his eyes for a moment in it, then took a deep breath. And plunged it into his chest.
The last thing he saw was a glimpse of his own blood pouring forth, and then, blessedly, a pair of lovely deep green eyes that stared gently into his own
The last thing he heard was his own grunt as the blade speared his torso, and then a voice, coming from far away. "You're a fool, Kunzite-sama, and far more sensitive than I ever imagined. And I love you for it. Come with me."
The last thing he felt was an excruciatingly hot, piercing agony, followed by the feel of a tender caress over his face that blocked out the pain, and of a soft kiss that pressed against his forehead. And finally a hand, a loving hand, that took his own and led him away.
The Queen of the Dark Kingdom under Metallia smiled. Her Kings had been far too rebellious to keep around, and besides, she had Endymion, who was more powerful than all of the Shitennou combined. All she needed was him to accomplish her goal.
Or so she thought. But she was wrong.
Author's Note: I carried this around in my head for a very long time before writing it, and finally knew that I had to get it down before it drove me crazy. But in the process of writing it, I so fell in love with the writing that I just couldn't end it. When I finally got the nerve to finish it, I cried through the entire ending, and my parents got angry with me for being so depressed for the rest of the day. They said that they don't want me writing any more. Like that can stop me.
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